Standard has been in massive flux for the past couple of weeks. Those of you who play in the real world might not have noticed it that much, but anybody that battles regularly online certainly did. One of the nice parts about battling online is it never takes me more than two or three hours to get the cards together for a single deck, which is pleasantly efficient for someone whose card collection is as disorganized as mine always was. On the other hand, one of the bad parts is how quickly the world changes. It’s kind of like the difference between a big bug hitting you in the face when you’re walking and one knocking your tooth out while you’re going 70 on your motorcycle.
Two weeks ago, the metagame was all aggro and midrange decks like RUG with some Valakut and U/B Control interspersed. One week ago, it shifted to half-control, half-Valakut, with some Vampires mingling about, trying to appear sanguine. Two days before Worlds, I played ten queued matches, all of which were against control or ramp. The day before Worlds, I played another ten matches in queues. Nine of them were Valakut; one was RUG. Thanks, GerryT…
I saw this coming, but I didn’t think the swing would be that severe. Since last week’s article, I’d been pondering ways to beat Valakut
that didn’t involve going control. I already knew of three interesting control decks that I could be playing in
from the SCG Richmond Open, a slightly
different list I got from December Dozen member Bing Luke, and
Jessie Butler’s Top 8 MBC list
from the SCG Invitational, but aside from the MBC list (very intriguing), U/W seemed mostly solved already.
I was mostly correct, but the final solution (an appropriate word for a U/W deck
wreaking havoc in Japan
) had some unexpected feathers in its cap.
Those of you paying attention to the Worlds coverage know Brian Kibler and Brad Nelson went the control route (as Kibler noted, Akira Asahara and Nelson deserve a huge amount of design credit for this one) with great success. This deck is clever as hell. Between Squadron Hawks, Spreading Seas, and Gideon Juras + Day of Judgment, you end up answering all three pivots of the current metagame in one package. Brian’s deck tech from the
Mothership is embedded below, but it may as well be his article for us this week (oh wait,
he has one of those
too!). That’s how detailed the discussion is. (Thanks BDM!) Kibler went undefeated in Standard with this bad boy (while teammate Eric Froehlich went a different route with the wampyre).
For those of you who might want to play it this weekend, here’s the decklist:
Speaking of control. Rich Hagon favorite blue mage (and part-time StarCityGames.com columnist) Guillaume Wafo-Tapa also finished undefeated in the Standard portion of the event, as did testing partner Pierre “Pedro” Canali. Guillaume was obviously playing blue control, but his version paired
Jace with black spells. Decklists were not released at the time of writing, but
parsing the coverage
tells us the deck is playing maindeck Duress, Jace(s), Doom Blade, Consume the Meek, Tectonic Edge, Sea Gate Oracle, and Grave Titan. Kibler expressed his feelings about U/B pretty clearly in his article today, saying that he hated the Vampires matchup, but the French master proved it was good enough against the field to match Kibler’s record on Day 1.
Canali, on the other hand, eschewed blue cards altogether and went green! According to some guy named David Williams (follow him on Twitter
), Pedro chose to rock up to Worlds with an Elf deck designed by Sylvain Lauriol as his Standard deck of choice. While we don’t have decklists just yet, I can give you Sean McKeown deck from this past weekend’s SCG Invitational with some minor tweaks made by Sean after hours of rigorous bashings. Here’s what he had to say after his Invitational experience:
“My most common sideboarding plan was to take out Eldrazi Monuments and Copperhorn Scouts for Vengevine + whatever the appropriate sideboard card was, as I actually dislike Monument against removal-heavy decks; it usually only can come into play after the Pyroclasm has dropped. Memoricide against Primeval Titan, Doom Blade against Frost Titan / Baneslayer. It may actually be right to swap Monuments to the board entirely in favor of Vengevine since it’s better in most of the matchups out there to be faced, but that wasn’t a decision I had taken seriously before the tournament. Also entirely possible is -1 Monument, +1 Tectonic Edge, as it’s pretty lazy in multiples, and the Edges were absurdly good. I can’t go below the green sources I do have and still like the Swamp and what it adds to the deck but could justify another Tectonic Edge as the 21st land even though you don’t need land #21 for your own mana needs.”
This is what Sean’s current decklist would look like — we’ll find out what Pedro ran later this weekend.
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Joraga Warcaller
- 4 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Vengevine
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 4 Sylvan Ranger
- 4 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
- 3 Copperhorn Scout
- 8 Forest
Nearly a third of the players at Worlds ran Valakut in Standard, and an extra 31% played U/x Control, so a pretty hefty proportion of the metagame was comprised of 2.5 decks. This makes your own sideboard planning quite a bit easier than it was three weeks ago, though the decks will be a lot better tuned coming out of Worlds than they were before.
However, what was played at Worlds will likely not be representative of the mix of decks in the post-Worlds format. The new metagame Top 5 likely looks more like this:
1)Â Â U/W Control
2)Â Â U/B Control
3)Â Â B/R Vampires
4)Â Â Elves
5)Â Â Valakut
What should you play now? My own preference (when I wanted to win) before Worlds was U/W, and Caw-Go is even better than the decklists I was working with, so I still believe U/W is the top dog. Elves is a spicy option for the beatdowns, though I have to admit I’m uncertain how it will fair in a field full of Wraths, while B/R Vampires is still very good and versatile against a control field. If you don’t like non-linear thinking or playing control decks, you can keep running Valakut ’til your heart is content, but the world is a lot tougher place when good players have counterspells, Spreading Seas to kill your green sources, and Tectonic Edges to wipe out Molten Pinnacles, and the aggro deck to beat is suddenly Elves. Valakut should die down to a more normal proportion of the metagame online and in real life (9 out of 10 matches in a day, all with different pilots was ridiculous), and things will likely stay this way at least until Mirrodin Besieged rolls around in February.
Before we switch topics, I have four words for you Vampire players out there:
Paulo mentioned it in
his article this week
(right before the line where he wishes himself good luck) and set off Timmy-meters across the entire Magic landscape.
Two Other Decks to Consider
If I had written this article on Monday instead of Thursday, I would’ve been cawing (so to speak) about Jessie Butler’s Mono-Black Control deck.
I love the concept, and his finish proves the execution is a pretty good one. Unfortunately, this maindeck needs some heavy tweaks to survive in the current metagame, and the threat density is a little problematic (I died a number of times in testing, beating down with a 2/2, while my opponent had turn after turn to draw a new bomb for me to deal with). That said, you get access to a whole lotta discard that you can shift to the main in order to combat the new control overlords. Can it be redesigned to handle a metagame with heavy control and Valakut? Let me know what you think in the forums.
The other deck I started playing is the Strobe Red build Josh Silvestri mentioned in
his article this week
(Note: I’m not going to steal his thunder — if you want the decklist, go there*). After getting sick of ramming my head against the Valakut wall, I decided to fire this bad boy into some queues and see what happened. Here was the result of one game (complete with excellent opponent account name) that doesn’t even include the two Teetering Peaks the Titan fetched:
Sometimes you just gotta say f*** the whole world, and
burn it all.
One Deck To Forget
As I mentioned last week, I’m relearning how to play and design decks for Standard. Missing three years means there are all sorts of cards I’m intrigued by that I’ve never gotten a chance to play, even in Limited. This also will lead/has led to a few horrifically bad concepts that simply don’t work in this environment (or perhaps, to be perfectly honest, any environment).
Wave deck from last week
was fun and moderately competitive. This deck is not. I started testing it when I remembered the Iona/Hideaway deck Zvi had helped design for Amsterdam Extended and thought it could be a cool, powerful idea. Then I tested and realized it has one glaring flaw — it doesn’t really do anything. The deck has no way to affect the board on a regular basis, which means planeswalkers absolutely wreck it. There are about fifty other ways in which it’s also bad, but just trust me when I say you probably should avoid taking this one anywhere outside of strictly casual settings. (A note for drinkers of haterade — this deck is presented as a learning experience for those who like to, I dunno, actually try designing their own decks instead of following the herd of sheeple.)
- 3 Acidic Slime
- 3 Iona, Shield of Emeria
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Admonition Angel
- 4 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 3 Wall of Omens
- 4 Primeval Titan
The Kitchen Sink
I was extremely excited to see Pierre Canali, French poker pro and one of the all-time nice guys in Magic, topping the Day 1 standings along with Kibler, EFro, Wafo-Tapa, and Lukas Jaklovsky.
I think I hate the current PT Blog format nearly as much as the guys that have to use it. Thank you, idiotic corporate directives, for ruining an awesome coverage feature.
David Williams sporting
the latest tech
— the Jheri — Fro. (Dave said it was a perm. You may decide for yourselves.)
This goes a long way
to explaining the low birth rate in Japan.
Nice to see coverage legend
Josh â€˜OMC’ Bennett is in Japan
in spirit, even if they lack his slight physical presence.
The fact that Gerardo Godinez Estrada is in the Top 16 after Day 1 is proof that regardless of how many times someone gets suspended or banned, Magic always brings them back. You can’t keep a …. man down.
Apparently there has been additional European consolidation that we were not aware of:
For those of you who like futbol (spelled as such so as not to confuse Americans), I highly recommend visiting
. This guy makes me smarter about the game every time I read his work.
Sorry about that. Here’s the remix of Kanye’s
for some mental mouthwash courtesy of my main fatty Phil Samms. Peep the flow by T.I. at the end, yo.
Quotable Quotes (Scandinavian and kaib edition)
Â fp deathmantle
Â 2p scrapmelter
Â 3p myrsmith
Â running well
Â sword in pack 2 fp, odds on argentum armor for p3?
Â no argentum armor
Â steel hellkite is also 6 to cast though
Â will have to go with that
Â only equipment bombs, steel hellkite and artifact removal
Â obviously playing vs some dumb infect deck r1
Â 5th pick
Â argentum armor
Â prolly gonna pass though
[author name="Tom Reeve"]Tom Reeve[/author] you know what scg needs
Â a weekly article on all the judge gossip
Â called RikiLeaks
flame, what are your feelings on The Bieber
the other day i saw this young guy walking hand in hand with a pretty girl
i thought “why would she want to be with that child”
then i realized…Bieber haircut
Â if you feel pissed and that everything is unjust, Kepp, ask ROSHOLM_ for the forum link of some guy who never drafted before and his draft
Â who made the worst picks a few times, just completely horrible
Â and then went on to beat anton a few drafts in
Â that should pick you up a bit!
Â can always count on kai for the rub-ins
Â its all i have left
Â also, im not sure if there are any japanese essays on swedish christmas traditions floating around
Â uh oh
Â i heard swedish xmas sport is
Â going out there with a gun
Â and shooting some guy skiing?
Â its extremely difficult tho
Â since you have to ricochet the shot off a moose
Â In the Philippines ‘my place has AC’ is an excellent pickup line for girls.
on the Twitters
*Take note Channel Fireball — not only did I link to your site (ooo, ahhh), but I even gave you deck traffic instead of stealing it for myself by including Silvestri’s list here. Perhaps going forward, when your writers reference external sites, you could try and be part of the community by giving the original authors the props they deserve through links**.
**This is my personal opinion and does not reflect that of StarCityGames.com, its owners, or possibly anyone else at all. Not linking to referenced writers is, as Patrick Sullivan would call it, “a d*ck move.”